Sachsenhausen national memorial

The one-sided historical perspective

The museum's conceptual design was a consequence of the memorial's planning. For this reason, the camp museum, which described the camp's history was built in the prisoner's kitchen. It discussed daily life in the camp, resistance and the the camp's liberation. The exhibition declared the reason behind the NS terror to be a consequence of the resistance. The prisoner's forced labour was simply a way to maximise the profits of industry. They went on to conclude that the genocide of the European Jews, Sinti and Roma were due to the utilisation and the exploitation of the people by capitalist companies and ignored the history of the National Socialist's racism and antisemitism.

In analogy to the black and white world view typical during the cold war, the exhibition presented West Germany as the direct successor of National Socialism, whereas the GDR portrayed itself as the "new humanist Germany".

Outside of the protective custody camp, foreign ex-prisoners' associations designed a new building to house the 'museum of the European people's antifascist struggle for freedom.' In 19 parts, each dedicated to a different country, the exhibition described the war and the resistance to Nazi Germany. The Soviet Union and Germany received twice as much exhibition space as the other countries and in the German part, the resistance was placed in the foreground. The Communist, Ernst Thälmann, and the Social Democrat, Breitscheid, both of whom were murdered in Sachsenhausen, were used as representatives of the SED's ideology. Sophie Scholl and Graf von Stauffenberg were also mentioned, although the attack of 20 July 1944 was not seen as being part of the antifascist resistance.

The government of the GDR only constructed the 'museum of the resistance fighters and the suffering of Jewish citizens' after the 'Union of Israeli antifascist resistance fighters' protested to them. The exhibits were displayed in barracks 38 and 39 - reconstructed from original pieces on the site of the small camp shortly before the opening of the memorial but visitors gained little information about the situation of the Jewish prisoners in Sachsenhausen. They were neither told how many Jews had been imprisoned in Sachsenhausen nor how they were mistreated and Sinti, Roma and homosexuals, as well as other prisoners which not been imprisoned because of their political beliefs, were - as in West German memorials, hardly mentioned at all.
 

More informations:

Sachsenhausen national memorial
Remembrance without authenticity
The site's authenticity is reduced and changed
The state opening
The one-sided historical perspective